The War Tapes (2006)
Critic Consensus: Candid, eye-opening footage gives viewers a close-up -- and educational -- look at the experiences of American soldiers in Iraq, a viewpoint not normally seen.
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Critic Reviews for The War Tapes
They expected tension; what they didn't expect was to serve out their year-long deployment as, essentially, the world's most targeted grocery store security.
Arguably the most vital and eye-opening documentary yet made regarding the United States' current military entanglement.
The film succeeds because of its refreshingly low-key emotional approach and its refusal to impose character arcs or political agendas on its subjects' footage.
The film is one of the most urgent and immediate nonfiction works we may ever see.
Audience Reviews for The War Tapes
Beat novelist and World War II veteran Jack Kerouac ceaselessly typed his second book onto tele-type paper taped together in one continuous scroll, such that the final product proved to be one expansive manic sentence. Thanks to the graces of his gifted editor, that sentence became On the Road, the now-classic tome on a search for identity in post-war America. Director Deborah Scranton had no less of a challenge in editing someone else's vision into the stark war narrative The War Tapes, in which she effectively communicates the incommunicable: War is a Hell that continues once the fighting has stopped.
Culmed from over 700 hours of footage shot by three members of a National Guard deployment in Iraq, The War Tapes smartly forsakes a documentary format's supposed objectivity for a frank immersion into what may be one of America's darkest hours. Given a director's individual political, philosophical, and religious convictions, objectivity in documentaries proves an impossibility anyway, especially considering how awash our culture is in the subjective American media. The soldiers take notice of this and the corporate profiteers, testament to Scranton's choosing her narrators well, an astute mix of humor, pathos, courage, and, yes, hope.
When Audie Murphy so wisely quipped "War is hell," there came the aspersion that heaven might also exist within the same continuum. Juxtaposing footage from the frontlines of war-torn Iraq with that of families on the homefront, The War Tapes only shows us that the same maudlin spirit seems to permeate the collective mindset-especially after the soldiers return as changed men-a telling commentary on how weary and identity-challenged our embattled society may have become.
Bottom Line: A stark and frank home movie from Hell-on-Earth.
As you'll hear other combat veterans say, the movie 'The Hurt Locker' is about as realistic as Sesame Street. This film is the real deal. It's gritty, grim, and glaringly gory. But this isn't a Hollywood imagining. The body parts and blood you see in this film, the dead bodies covered with flies are what soldiers go through to do their jobs. 'The War Tapes' is an amalgamation of the points of view of several soldiers given cameras with which to capture these images, so each contains a slightly different take on what's happening. I very much bonded with SGT Zach Bazzi in this film. And since he was the only one in his platoon who speaks Arabic as a native speaker, he was in the unique, if unenviable, position of acting as translator. Being of Arab extraction, he could also see the other side of the story which must have caused a lot of anguish because his fellow soldiers didn't share his perspective. He did his job very well and I'd like to say to him right now that the ceremony at which you formally became a citizen was just that, a formality. You earned your citizenship the way that very few native-born American citizens will ever have to and you earned it when the first round was fired at you, not at that ceremony which our country shamefully forced you to attend after you returned from the war. Thank you for your service. And thank you to all of the men of 'The War Tapes'. Hooah!
This was my husbands unit over in Iraq. He has given me information about what they did over there and that's all I need to know.
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